Live straight-ahead jazz doesn't get much better than these two nights when Woody Shaw brought his quintet into the Village Vanguard in August 1978. Trumpet and saxophone improvise with forceful confidence, piano provides the glue that keeps them in a tightly- knit affair, and the rhythmic team of bass and drums exudes a propelling force.
Shaw's inspiring voice introduces "In a Capricornian Way" and provides leadership. His horn leads from a different perspective as the quintet swells with straight-ahead moods that let the music rise and fall spontaneously, with never a dull moment.
This reissue includes three lengthy bonus tracks, two of which have never been issued before. Extensive liner notes by Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III, Steve Turre, and Michael Cuscuna give the package added value. But it's the music that captures your attention and holds it tight from start to finish. Shaw's horn brings fire to the up-tempo rant and cool passion to the sensual ballad. His cohesive quintet interprets each composition with clarity and emotional strength.
Highly recommended, this reissue of Stepping Stones serves as a competent reminder of the musical authority that Woody Shaw brought to the world's jazz scene.
Stepping Stone; In a Capricornian Way; Seventh Avenue; All Things Being Equal Are Not; Escape Velosity; Blues for Ball; Theme for Maxine.
Woody Shaw: cornet, flugelhorn; Carter Jefferson: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Onaje Allan Gumbs: piano; Clint Houston: bass; Victor Lewis: drums.
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